Written & Directed by: Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford
Prince David Oseia
As we wade (shamble?) through the ever growing pile of zombie films, there are those that cause us to sit up and take notice. “The Dead” is one such film and while it contains most of the elements required to make a decent zombie movie, it falls prey to lapses in logic and amateurish acting.
“The Dead” is the first zombie movie from Africa and at this point, fans of Resident Evil 5 should be salivating. The film opens as a lone man in bedouin robes walks across the desert, dealing with the occasional zombie that lurches after him. The first few necessary elements are there: great setting, slow, Romero-style zombies, practical effects. We soon learn that our hero is American soldier Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) the only survivor of a zombie induced plane crash. We are never given a reason for the outbreak (yay!) and we aren’t even sure how much of Africa is infected. All we know is that Lt. Murphy wants to return to his family in the states and for that, he requires an airport. Along the way he meets Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia), an African soldier searching for his son after shamblers destroyed his village. Conveniently, he knows where an airport is and the two set off across the African savannah. Unfortunately, this is where the movie starts to go south. As yet, we haven’t heard much from Lt. Murphy but once he is given someone to talk to, his forced delivery and some awkward dialogue begin to break the spell. This is where we start to leave logic behind.
The movie plays out like a video game; the hero or heroes are presented with a challenge, the challenge is overcome using nearby items, after a quick cutscene, a new challenge is presented. Problems walking around with zombies everywhere? Oh look, a car! Radiator overheats and needs water, argument ensues over using their precious water supply. Oh look, a working well! We’re hungry and we’re going to starve. Oh look, a chicken! Events that could be devastating to our heroes are resolved in the next scene and even the ever present zombies start to feel like less of a threat and more of a nuisance.
Then we come to the problem of the journey. Now I realize that this is a minor quibble and that there could very well be an off-camera explanation but hear me out. Two soldiers, traveling across the savannah day and night, no roads, no cities, no street lights, zombies everywhere (and probably a few not so friendly animals) and never once do we see either of them consult a map or compass. They just sort of happen upon everything they need and even the aforementioned airport is suddenly there, right in front of them. It’s a minor detail but I feel it was something that should have been at least mentioned, otherwise these two guys would have been traveling in circles.
It is nice to know that there are still filmmakers who value a serious zombie film as we seem to be up to our spurting neck wounds in zombie comedies these days. The effects in “The Dead” are excellent and mostly practical (a little CG isn’t going to kill you), the setting is fantastic and Prince David Oseia is an actor I would like to see more of but the video game plot and severe breaks in logic keeps “The Dead” from having a place in my collection. Back to the pile it goes.